A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller | Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller | Book ReviewA Mad Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller
Narrator: Katharine McEwan
Length: 11 Hours 13 Minutes
Published by Penguin on 2014-01-23
Genres: Europe, Fiction, Girls & Women, Historical, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

Welcome to the world of the fabulously wealthy in London, 1909, where dresses and houses are overwhelmingly opulent, social class means everything, and women are taught to be nothing more than wives and mothers. Into this world comes seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling, who wants only to be an artist—a nearly impossible dream for a girl. After Vicky poses nude for her illicit art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school. Shamed and scandalized, her parents try to marry her off to the wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky has other things on her mind: her clandestine application to the Royal College of Art; her participation in the suffragette movement; and her growing attraction to a working-class boy who may be her muse—or may be the love of her life. As the world of debutante balls, corsets, and high society obligations closes in around her, Vicky must figure out: just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dreams?

Why Did I Listen To This Book?

I am one jealous person, and so when I see all my friends reading and raving about A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller and I did not get a copy, I was like super jealous, because I am a human. Then I chilled right out because I got an email with the audiobook and you guys, I loved the audiobook like breathing. IT WAS SO GOOD. Basically, I was desperate to read this book because it has elements that I am 100% always a fan of. First off a beautiful cover with a beautiful dress. Second HISTORY! Third women’s suffrage! Fourth romance! Fifth scandal! Look, if you are that kind of reader who loves the whole wild woman thing, where a female steps outside society’s constraints for her, you will be just like me and LOVE A Mad, Wicked Folly. Also? The audiobook is very, very well-narrated.

What’s The Story Here?

A Mad, Wicked Folly is about this girl named Vicky Darling, or Victoria. She’s living in the Edwardian era and is an artist. Only, she’s also upper class. She’s not a blue blood by any means, but her parents have wealth. Her dad owns this sanitation business and his rival is Thomas Crapper, LOL. Anyways. The book isn’t quite as full of LOLs. That’s okay. So yeah, Vicky is attending art classes in Paris when she does something totally scandalous, she poses nude. Word gets out and she has to go home to England in disgrace. To further complicate matters, her dad is all NO MORE ART and it is devastating to her. However, she’s all, well, if I get married, I can have my art back, so Victoria gets engaged to some minor noble who does not even matter, oh, his last name is Carrick-Humphrey and he is a douche. OH HEY a quick perusal of goodreads says it’s Edmund. That’s all you need to know. Anyways, after her art portfolio is destroyed, she finds out that this elite art school gives scholarships and decides, ah heck why not try for it. So, for inspiration she begins sketching the suffragettes and big inspiration hits in the form of PC Fletcher, a police constable. Anyways, Victoria gets jostled and then arrested and loses her new sketches and portfolio. BUT THEN, PC Fletcher brings them to her and, sigh. You guys, I could keep going with the plot, but by the time I finish there won’t be anything left for you to read. Just know that A Mad Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller is about a young girl’s coming of age and saying that she’s had it with her gilded cage. It’s kind of my dream book, as in I have been dreaming about reading a book this good.

How Is Vicky As A Main Character?

At first, I thought, hmmmm, I don’t know what to think about Vicky and that she was dumb because how can you expect to pose nude and maintain your society status, let’s be real here. BUT THEN girl won me over. Y’all want a feminist book, well here you go. Vicky is just so dedicated to her art, I love seeing that passion for a subject. She kind of has blinders on, but I am okay with that. Anyways, she has this amazing arc of character development that feels real and let’s just say I was invested. When we start the book, she has no interest in the woman’s suffrage movement. She’s kind of passive. But as she matures or rather, learns more, we see her shed her society trappings for freedom and it is perfect and the way the journey takes us is fraught with drama and such, but it is still perfect is what I am saying.

How Is The World Building?

I am putting world building as a thing to talk about even though there is no fantasy or science or speculative fiction here. I think that it takes a delicate skill to set a book in the past and to give that book appeal, yet maintain authenticity. Further, it’s an undertaking to make your reader feel as though they are there. Not that I know from experience because I have zero interest in being a writer. Anyways, I think that Sharon Biggs Waller did an awesome job with her setting. I loved how large of a role the British Woman’s Suffrage movement played. There’s like actual real life suffragettes in this book. Then there’s a ball and being presented to the King. And also! The art of the time! And like as a reader I got so frustrated at all the doors that were closed to Victoria and how was consistently controlled by males. Basically, I had all these URGH SOCIETY feels.

Where Does This Rate On The Swoon Scale?

Girl, this is off the charts on that scale of swoon. So, like, Vicky meets PC Fletcher, and she kind of hates him at first because he’s a cop and arresting people. But then he shows up with her portfolio. And he makes a proposal, he writes novelettes and wants her to illustrate them. At first, Vicky is all no, but then she does so and he acts as her muse and model. She begins to get really attracted to him, only too bad so sad she has a fiancé who is the worst. What you guys really need to know is that Will Fletcher is deeper than he seems at first page glance. There is kissing. There is a relationship and a struggle, the characters really need to fight to make it work. Basically Victoria and Will are everything. EVERYTHING.

How’s The Narration?

A Mad Wicked Folly was the first audiobook narrated by Katharine McEwan I’ve listened to. I always get nervous about new to me narrators, but McEwan nails it. She’s got a proper, soothing accented voice. She does hilarious snooty voices for the Carrick-Humphrey men, like they sound so nasal and priggish, I love it. I loved her voice for Victoria. She sounds so earnest. McEwan may be new to me, but now if I come across an audiobook with her name as narrator, I am going to get my hands on it. She’s got good diction and pacing and quite the compelling voice. I really liked her narration, obviously. The audiobook is published by Listening Library who certainly know what they are doing in the audiobook producing.

Sum It Up With A GIF

That moment when the book you have just read makes you feel all the things and then makes you pump your fist because yeahhh buddy women’s rights! THIS BOOK RIGHT HERE. So, this GIF which feels me with all sorts of joy is perfect for this audiobook of A Mad Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Loved reading about this time period! Definitely not one you see in YA very often. And, while I liked Vicky, I thought she was a little too naive, despite her brave/wilder tendencies. Probably her upbringing, since it was quite sheltered.

  2. I loved this one too! I read the book but I can imagine that the audio version must have been fantastic.

  3. So this book wasn’t really on my radar. Well, it was on my radar in the sense that I knew other people read it, but it wasn’t on my I-might-want-to-read-this radar.

    I’m totally a feminist, but I don’t always like stories of girls breaking outside the world of societies expectations. I have no idea why, but I tend to not like them. Even though I am all women-power, and go do what you want, and who cares about stupid societies stupid rules for women.

    But I am thinking that I should give this one a try. Also, I keep picturing Mrs. Banks from Mary Poppins singing about woman’s suffrage 🙂

    Great review, April.

  4. I have this audiobook and now CANNOT wait to get to it!!!!!

  5. I’m seriously even MORE excited to read A Mad, Wicked Folly after reading your review! I’ve been looking forward to it since I first heard about it – art! suffragettes! England! romance! And now, seeing how it’s garnering a positive response, it’s making me antsy to read it.

  6. Ahhh, yay! This review was just the kick I needed to get back into read AMWF. I started it a few days ago, but only made it to page 30 or so before I was interrupted by another book… =S I’m SO excited to jump back in to Vicky’s story now — and especially to meet Will!!

  7. I’m waiting on this one from the library. It sounds fantastic.

  8. Umm, I loved your review.

  9. So, I couldn’t really tell if you liked this one or not, but I’m adding it to my TBR anyway….

  10. I may have just stared at that gif for a long time.

    Um. So yes. I am VERY glad that you loved this, because it is SUCH an April book. I don’t remember if I told you that or not, but I think I did, because it’s all woman power and kissing and independence and historical and just awesomeness.

    Oooh, you thought she was dumb, but I see that. It was more like her priorities and stuff, but yeah. She’s so great. I love how every decision she makes is for her art first and everything else second. That’s not something that happens often.

    Many urgh society feels. Oh, also this reminds me of a thing I probably shouldn’t say publicly. But lol.


    Listening Library is fabbity fab.


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